1840 – 1940
By Kirby S. “Tommy” Bassford
Copyright Eric Thornton & Tim Bassford
the oldest character in the “First ten years of
the Christmas fire of 1870, he was sent to
were four Sprinkel families: St. Clair, Nelson, Gambill, and Silas. St.
Clair's home was “The Cedars.” He was the father of Mrs. Jas. H. Dwyer, and Henry Sprinkel, Who was town treasurer for some time. Nelson's home was on
the corner of
Strayer was cashier of the old First National Bank, located in the
corner of the Warren House. Later the rooms were used as the office of James
and Frank Harris, dentists. The Strayer
home was on Plank Row (East Market). Mrs. Juliet Strayer was the mother of Henry and Ernest, who became leading
lawyers. She was called the Mother of the Old Harrisonburg Guards, of which
John Donivan was Captain. The company took part in the Yorktown
Celebration in 1887. James Hay, who was Lieutenant, moved to
Smith was Editor of the “
L. Avis was the pioneer
druggist and come here in 1869. His father, John, was sheriff of
John Brown, the Abolitionist. Jas. L. was the first to build after the fire of 1870.
Two pioneer plasterers were Peter Guyer, and Alexander Logan, whose two sons, Worth and Lee succeeded him. Hugh, son of Worth, and Dan, son of Lee, are well known.
Dorsey is the oldest stone-contractor in years and service-77
years of age and 55 years in business. He built the foundations of scores of
the largest buildings and homes in
Dan P. Wine was the pioneer in motion picture shows.
His first was the
The Wartman families lived on the corner of W. Market and German. They were connected with the “Rockingham Register,” a weekly paper. “Harvy” Wartman was very religious and did much to improve the moral standing of the colored citizens.
were several Harry families, Jewett,
Robert, and Eli. The son of one of them is now living, Edgar Eli Harry, and although retired is doing evangelistic work. He
There were three Braithwaites, Jacob, Joseph and Sewel. Jacob and Jos. had a carpenter shop which spanned Blacks Run at the old stone arch bridge. Sewel was the father of the late Chief W. “Al”. His home was on the corner of Wolfe and German.
the street lived John Cordell, who came here with the late Philo Bradley and worked in the foundry until his retirement. Two of his
sons “Scott” and “Ed”, also worked most of their lives at the foundry. Across
the street lived Emanuel Royer, of whose large family two survive: Miss Haddie, here, and
Mrs. Nannie Waiters, of
the corner of Rock and German lived the Magalis family, and on the other side lived John Reamre, while on the corner lived Pendleton Bryan. On the corner of Elizabeth and German lived Judge John C.
Woodson, whose family played a
prominent part in the affairs of
Bryan studied law and later became a partner in the law firm of Woodson &
Bryan. He was mayor for several terms. His wife, Emma Lyon Bryan, was very gifted. She was the author of several books and
painted the large painting of
There were a number of hotels here: Pollock's The Washington House, Spottswood, Revere House, and Seven Ton. The first modern Hotel was the Clarendon, then the Kavanaugh. The last named was the first hotel to install running water. When the Isaac Paul building was erected on the corner of Market and German streets, the entire upper floors were used as a hotel by Mrs. Hester Effinger. In 1854 John C. Morrison came here from near Stanardsville, Green county. He and a number of his workmen boarded there. Renting one of the old Braithwaite shops, he began making wagons and buggies. In 1859 he purchased the old English style brick residence, across from Paul's, which at one time had been used for the Post Office, and court was held there during the erection of one of the old Court Houses.
1869 he built the present large frame building and employed about thirty
skilled workmen. His vehicles had a wide reputation in the Valley and in
brother, Hugh, operated a photograph gallery on the north side of the Square. A
daughter, Miss Annie, resides in the home on
Reherd lived on
Joseph T. Rohr lived on the corner of Elizabeth and German streets. His shop was between his home and the jail. His brother, Alfred C., was associated with him, and later opened a store in the Thurmond building. His daughter, Ella, married “Jim” Bowman, a traveling salesman for years.
O. Conrad lived on the corner of
Bruce and German streets. Two sons, Ed. and George, Jr., became leading
lawyers. On the other corner lived Boliver Ward, connected with the
corner, and next to him was the home of N. T. Chase. His son William, and D. C. Coogler, operated a store in the Paul building on the corner of W. Market and German for a time.
1878 Joseph and Jacob Snell purchased their business and after several years moved to
the Christmas fire of 1870 a large 3-story building was erected by Jacob Sibert on the south-east corner of the Square, and operated a
tobacco store. Wm. Loeb & Son and Jonas
Lowenbach were in the two other stores. On the
O Perry Helphenstein home was on
and Henry Shacklett operated a large store
on “Shacklett's Corner.” Henry's home was on part of the present Court House
and Post Office lot, and on the corner was the old
Abner Shacklett operated a hardware store on the east side of the square, which later was run by Triber & Son, John P. Burke and Nicholas & Lemley. Frank Nicholas' father, “Abner”, lived on East Market, now the Joe Neilson home, and was Town Sergeant, Justice of the Peace and Notary. He operated a lumber yard and public scales.
old Ott home stood in the center of a tract of land, now
the corner of the B. Ney lot Samuel Loewner had a marble yard, assisted by two sons,
Joseph and Charles. Two children survive, Joseph in
mother of “Cap”. Later Joe .and Charlie operated a yard at the present location of the Loewner Marble Co. A brother, Lee, had a store, in the Guyer building with Joe. The Guyer building is the site of the old home of Peter and Henry Kelly, shoe makers.
On the site of the Jewish Temple, a blacksmith shop was run by G. P. Jones, and later by a colored man, Joge Huffman. The pioneer baker was “Andy” Feuchtenberger, whose first place of business was on West Market street, later the Methodist Church site, and now Rockingham Motor Co. He moved to the Aaron Wilson building, now the Catholic Church. The old building was moved to the rear, and later remodeled for the Priest Home. Andy moved to the J. D. Price home, now Campbell Hotel.” Five daughters and one son survive.
Gordon's home was on the corner of N. Main and Rock. His wife was
Miss Laura Gay. Ludwig Hirsch's first home was on
George Miller home was on the corner of W. Market and German. Levi Cromer's wagon shop was next. His home was across Black's Run in a
large one-story log house, which was tom down when the Valley R. R. was built
Wm. Gay lived on the corner of N. Main and Gay. L. A. Funkhouser and Walker Ritter ran a store in the corner for a number of years. Mr. Ritter built the large brick store room on the opposite corner, with his apartment above. Later a handsome home was built on High street. One daughter, Mrs. Charles O'Rouick, survives.
was the home of Algernon and Jewett Gray, after whose death it was inherited by Miss Annie Gray. It was purchased by Mrs. Mary Lupton, mother of James, who has been a prominent figure in the
made him a present of “Sam Purdy ,” a noted stallion, along with several
blooded mares. He established quite a reputation raising fast trotters.
Disposing of his property he bought a blue grass farm near
Wm. Fallis' home was in the same block. He was superintendent of streets and walks for a number of years. After living for a time in a Southern city, he has retired to his farm.
Andrew Irick home was at the intersection of South Main and
Moffett Newman home, now the Elk's Home, was also owned by Warren S. Lurty and Glenn Alexander. Across
D. Woodson was associated with him. M. Harvy Effinger moved to a farm south of town.
Rice lived on Jail Hill, who in cold weather, always wore a
shawl. A niece and nephew were Miss Ella and Thomas Warren. Tom and his father, Rice Warren, operated a State Bank called “The Commercial Bank,” on the
Andrew Hockman home was on Plank Row (East Market), as was also the homes
of J. O. A. Cleary, Jno. R. Saum, Strother Jones, Wesley Taliaferro, Jno. K. Smith, Wm. McAllister, the Misses Golidy, Wm. Billhimer, Samuel Upp, Judge James Johnson, James Dutrow, and at the top of the hill, Preacher Reid, the father of the noted Dr. Walter Reid. Walter was born in
the Cemetery on the old
Metthews was the pioneer plumber-contractor here. He came here in
1878 and worked in the ironing department of John C. Morrison's carriage factory. When water and sewerage systems were
installed he opened a shop near his father-in-law's shop. His wife was Louise,
daughter of Gambill Sprinkel. A son, George, in
Falls here, and a daughter Nellie in
Ton Tavern was a long frame building: north of B. Ney's, with two wings running back. The family of Jas. Gray lived between the old tavern and the
Dechert was editor of the “Spirit of the Valley.” He was the father
of Wilmer and Edward Dechert. One son
Crabill ran a livery stable on
John Kelley, Sr., ran a boarding house on North Main , street. A son, Martin, operated the “Farmers' Home,” over the clothing store of James and Charles Lupton (now Friddles') and later the clothing store of I. Hollander.
first home of the late Geo. E, Sipe was on the second floor of the old
John Wallace ran the Revere House Hotel, adjoining, was the home of Dr. Hill. Next was the Dr. Neff home, then a small house occupied by several families. Then Dr. T. N. Jones' residence and the present Episcopal Church. Across the alley was the Pollock home; then L. C. Myers' home, then the Ward home next. The home of Dr. Jno. Amiss sat in a large lot.
On the south side of the Square Morgan Switzer ran a tailoring shop (later D. M. Switzer & Sons). Hugh Friddle
Market street and lived
upstairs. He later built a home on
Two colored citizens were James Cochran and Robert Wilson, the father of the retired school teacher and scholar, “Ulyssus” also the step-father of the late Lucy Simms.
Henry V. Strayer's home was on the corner of Academy: and W. Market; His wife, Miss Lizzie, was the daughter of Col. Wickham. Mrs. Strayer and two children survive.
F. Voorhese, a one-armed
Confederate, lived on the corner of N. German and Gay, and operated a grocery
H. Dwyer, the father of our
“Bob”, resided on
J. H. McGlaughlin, who was employed at the Bradley Foundry, opened a butcher
James Kenney lived on the southwest
side of the Square (now
Above the law offices of George Grattan, III, was the bachelor home of Thos. Lenning, a large landowner.
Adam Fridley ran a livery stable adjoining the present home, and when a young man worked for Peter Reherd, and later drove a dray for James Dwyer. He afterward entered the livery and dray business for himself. Three children survive.
the 1870 Christmas fire, a man named Wellman came here and bought a second-hand camp car from Jos.
Andrews, Supt. of the Valley .Pike. He opened the first white
barber shop in one end, and lived in the other end of the car. He placed it on
one of the vacant lots caused by the fire. When one of the new buildings was
built, he would move over on the next lot. When West Water and Bruce was
extended he purchased several lots and built houses, assisted by Emanuel Royer. The addition was named “
“Cap” Bamber, his son, was the champion rock-breaker in the Pike camp. As there were no crushers in those days, the maccadam was broken by hand, and paid for by the perch.
the Pike and Peach Grove road was the home and farm of the Shands family. Two sons, William and Elverton, were prominent
members of the Rockingham bar. Elverton was a prominent figure in the social
Lawn“ as it is now called, was the home of J. C. Steigle, who developed
home of Judge Geo. G. Grattan was on the corner of
Hill lived two brothers, “Phil” and John Witts. They were hat and cap makers, hunters and trappers. They
peddled their wares through the Valley and in
and with James Lupton formed the firm of “Lupton and Sullivan.” He was one of the
members of the Harrisonburg Land & Improvement Co., which bought the Thomas
Lennig Farm and laid out the present streets from Gay to the
railroad. Sullivan later moved to
Before the fire of 1870 the fire-fighting equipment consisted of a crudely made affair in the shape of a wooden box on four small wheels containing a large 1-cylinder pump with handles for eight men on each side. There was no suction pipe and the water was carried and emptied into the box. There were only two sections of hose which were made of leather rivetted together spiral fashion. This hose had to be oiled often to keep them pliable. Most of the families and business places had one or two leather buckets hanging handy, and when the alarm was sounded rushed to the spring, creek, well or cistern to form a line which passed the full ones to the engine and the empties back. Four other big fires occurred, the East Market fire, which burned the block from the Jones Building (old Elk's Home) east to Federal Alley. Next was the Mill fire, which destroyed the mill and three other large business place's north of the railroad. Then the Sublett fire, caused by the elevator dropping with a load of matches. Besides the warehouse, the Detweiler home, the dance hall across the railroad and the Catholic Church (now the Merchants Grocery) being completely destroyed, the Valley Depot was so badly damaged that it was razed and the Union Station built. Next was the Iseman fire, which is fresh in our minds.
the first brick buildings built after the 1870 fire was the Weashie building
(now Jos. Houck) built by Weashie Brothers and Richards. Richards had a saloon on the lower
floor. There was a billiard parlor on the second floor, and a ten-pin alley on
the top. Across the street was the saloon of “Pat” and Johnny Lamb. Next door was a candy and cigar store of Loewner Bros. A
large hall with a stairway was in the center of the hotel. Next was a retail
liquor store owned by Beard Bros. Next was the saloon of “Windy” John Wallace, in the rear of which was his ten-pin alley and billiard
and pool rooms with entrance from the hall. History repeats itself, as “Bill's”
recreation center, “The Arcade,” is on the same spot. On one of the vacant lots
left by the fire a man by the name of Kain operated his “Flying Horses” (hobby
horses) which were built in
Gen. Jno. Ed. Roller, who owned large tracts of land, was instrumental in bringing E. D. Root and Wm. H. Gardner here. They were to build a town in Brocks Gap to be known
as “Yanktown.” A large extract
plant was built, a large saw mill and several other enterprises. After a time
Root went to Broadway and edited a weekly paper. Mr. Gardner came to
McCallister built the old
When hitching horses around the square was prohibited he opened a free hitching yard, which is now covered by his buildings. On retiring his four sons took charge.
& Lambert ran a store on the corner (now Charles Store). After them Dr. S.
H. Moffatt with his two nephews, Sam
and Herbert Coffman, ran a large store
there. “Harve” was sent to
John R. Jones was an attorney with
offices on the west side of the square. He was a son of David Jones whose forbears built “Collicello” about 1812. One of the
prominent characters was Wm. Slater, the father of Verne. He was a member of most of the fraternal orders, and said
to have been an authority on any subject. Most of his life was spent in the
foundry as an expert moulder. Peachy Rice was another worker there. The writer was on the pay roll as
a skimmer boy. C. E. Vandergrift, who was a tailor for Geo. S. Christie, married Caroline the sister of John Witts. Bertie, her daughter, married Thomas Gorham, of
Shunk's home was on
The present Court House is the third the writer has seen on the site. The old brick, which was torn down and replaced by another brick in, 1870, and which had four large square columns in front.
Abb” Abner Fletcher, was a prominent figure in the Federal service, as
custodian, and later clerk of the
Mrs. W. H. Keister. The large number at his funeral proved his popularity.
When the brick court house was built in 1876, the town clock was installed by a large clock firm and Andrew Lewis, who was a jeweler with his store and residence on the north side of the Square (now “Joe's”) assisted in the erection and later was keeper of the clock. The cable from which the large weights were suspended, broke and the weights crashed through the ceilings and floors to the ground and narrowly missed persons in the lower hall. When the present stone building was erected the clock had been stored in an outbuilding of Glodis Leake, and during a small fire was damaged. The late John Taliaferro and the later D. Clint Devier repaired and erected it in the tower. A new clock replaced it some time ago. As a young man “Clint” entered the store of Mr. Taliaferro, and after working 8 or 10 years, went into business for himself.
Sibert whose home was on
Johnny Grumbine who was a typical Irishman, and a familiar figure on the streets, was the “butt” of a joke about “the man who sat on the outer end of a piece of timber and sawed himself off.” He made his home with Mrs. J. Kelley, who cared for him in his old age.
Chas. T. O'Ferrell lived on
One of the yearly events was Confederate Memorial Day. With a parade headed by the “Eshman Band”, playing the famous dirges composed by Prof. Eshman himself, followed by the Harrisonburg Guards. Col. D. H. Lee Martz was at the head of his remaining comrades, and delivered the eulogy to his departed comrades in the “silent city of the dead,” who fought and died for the cause which they thought was right.
Another figure who was revered and loved was Robt. Colvin.
P. Houck, father of Joe, came to
and Manassas Gap R. R., whose large bell-shaped smoke stack engines were wood burners. J. H. Magalis, one of the engineers, constructed the first enclosed cab on his engine.
Pearl Sumption and the late Chas. Trenary, after moving out and in of several locations, bought the corner of North Liberty and W. Wolfe and built the “Troy”, which has developed into the largest and most modernly equipped Laundry in the Valley.
One of the old land marks was the “Castle” which stood on the site of the present Presbyterian Church. It was the home of several of the old families, later the home of Dr. Hollingsworth. On being torn down a tunnel covered with large stones was discovered which ran from the old house to the rear, supposed to lead to a spring or well to obtain water without danger from the Indians.
before the advent of the water system the father of the late Wm. and John Long made a living hauling water from the “
In the south-east corner of the square was a small brick building, an office of one of the county officers, but was used for the telegraph office. The operators were George Ribble, Frank Robinson and Allan Thompson. Kenton Bryan learned telegraphy and was sent west. In the northwest corner was the council chambers in a two-story brick building. At the left of the old brick court house stood the old clerk's office, one of the large upper rooms was used as a cigar factory by Prof. Chas. Eshman, who later moved to the south side of the square.
late “Billy” Wm. Bucher came to
“Sandy” Bowman, Erasmus Lemley and' Wm. Long were carpenters and spent most of their lives in the services of
Hockman & Bucher, and Wm. Bucher.
home of John Wallace was on the corner of N. Main and Rock. His wife was Bridget
Kelley. Across the alley was the Pat Lamb home, now razed for a filling station. His wife was Kate
Sullivan. Two sons and four daughters survive. On the site of
Grant's store, Rohr & Sprinkel operated a hardware store. James H. Dwyer clerked for them. The firm was dissolved, and the firm of
Rohr & Driver formed and moved on the corner of N. Main and
Switzer, son of Jno. A., and father of the Switzer Boys, also the father of the
telephone industry in
the site of the
of the well-known citizens was Joseph Cavey, who superintendent of bridge construction on the B. &
O. from Harpers Ferry to
1884, during the flood of Blacks Run the cabinet shop of Thomas Bassford was washed away with all its contents, tools and stock. The
shop and several bridges formed a dam at the old stone arch bridge, and caused
the high waters .to form a current down
Joseph Bowman a paint contractor lived on High street. One son, Robert, by his first wife, survives, also a son and widow at home. His father was Samuel R. Bowman whose home was on the west edge of town, an auctioneer and at one time a considerable land owner. One son, Wm. R., aged 88 years, survives.
C. Myers, a Confederate Veteran,
whose home was on
Bank, from teller to President, serving a long period until his retirement. He was a Lieutenant in the old Harrisonburg Guards, and took interest in the Confederate Memorial Day services. His daughter, Annie, became the wife of C. B. Richardson.
Snyder was associate editor of the “Daily News” with R. B. Smythe. During his stay here he made a host of friends by his
sociable manner. Prof. Chas. Cleary was a blind music teacher, who made his home with his
brother J. O. A. Cleary, who had a photograph
gallery in the old Ott building. In 1884 Gideon Baugher came here and operated a cigar box factory on
1887 John Noll came here and was chief lineman on the Valley Branch of the
B. & O. His first home was on
first electric lighting plant was in the Houck Tannery, and for a time supplied
current to a limited number of business places and streets. Most of the
installing was in charge of “Jack” J. T. Reiter, who made his home with his father-in-law, Peter Guyer,
Among the old B. & O. employees were Wm. McClung, Charles Miller, Doad Yeakle, Edward and Bruce Russell, Bill Manuel, John McLain, Dick Donovan, Capt. John Bowers, Nelson Deck, Alex Conrad, Lewis Byerly, Capt. Roderick, Pat Welch and son Dick. Old engineers were Robert Earle, Robert Colvin, Jos. Haynes, Frank Brosins, Taylor McAbee and Lewis Payne. On the Southern Capt. W. W. Payne and the veteran and retired Pullman Conductor, Capt. Jones, who is a direct descendent of John Paul Jones, and Jas. Murphy.
In 1888 J. A. Mathi came here and opened a Bakery in the Liskey building, later moving to the old Wartman corner. W. Ed. Friddle worked for him, and later purchased his business and operated it. Ed then purchased the old Helphenstein property and has developed one of the largest and most modern bakeries in the Valley.
prominent figure in the later development of
J. Robert Switzer had dental offices on
south square. Two brothers were Ward and Charles. His home was on
Jayson Bruffy was in the mercantile business with Dee Coffman on the east side of the square in the old Haupt building.
Wm. H. Hawkins, who was a traveling salesman for years and was one of the best known men in the Valley made his home here and succeeded the Valley Hardware Co., and established the Hawkins Hardware Co. with his son Herbert. His wife was Elizabeth Neff.
The four oldest living native-born Harrisonburgers are Miss Haddie Royer, 86; John Kelly, 83; and George W. Bassford, 82. Uncle Billy Rickard is 85.
the tannery was enlarged by the erection of the present 300 ft. building, Prof.
A. L. Taylor was sent by the Corliss
Company to install two immense engines in the plant. He became attached by the
hospitality of those he came in contact with and as Mr. Houck was in need of a
man of his ability, accepted an offer from him, and moved his family from
Sullivan was a native of
M. Menefee came here in 1910 and
with Mr. Lee Paterson dealt in horses and cattle. About 1912 he opened a coal,
grain, feed and fertilizer establishment, and in 1928 made his son, Wade, a
member of the firm. In 1930 they purchased the flour mill and built up one of
the largest businesses in
In 1888 Wm. S. Lauck a youth, came here and clerked in the store of Uncle Tom Wilkins. He later bought the building, now Penders, and operated a store for a number of years.
Leopold Wise came here in 1861 he had a store in he Dold building,
corner of the square. B. Ney came here in 1868, and clerked for him for some time. When
Mr. Wise moved to the Hardesty building Mr. Ney bought the
Hebrew merchant was I. N. Pinkus, who had store on the corner of
Three of the old pioneer doctors were Dr. Charles Hunter and Gordon and Williams, who in answering calls to the sick promptly responded on horseback with a supply of medicines in their saddle-pockets, and would administer same.
the corner of German and Graham streets was the home of Dr. Jas. Miller. Between the Miller home and the Isaac Paul building was the Brightman home. The Aiken home was on
Wilton came to
John Paul's home was in the
center of a large lawn on High street and was the birthplace of John Jr. His
wife was Miss Katie Green, of
Leo J. Wise ran a store on the east side of the square.
August Hellar also ran a store next to the Messerole Bros. Jonas Heller first ran a beer saloon across the street from James L. A
Avis, and later moved to
East Market on the north side next to John Graham Effinger's. Before trains were put on the Valley R. R. a man named
“Heiskel” operated a stage coach line to
first marble yard of Samuel Loewner was on the south side of
landmark was the old stone jail which stood on West Market (Sublett warehouse
site) and was used as a feed and corn meal mill. It was torn down when the R.
R. was built. At the other end of the lot on
his youth “Bob” Leedy was always at home in the various debates in the county
free schools, in which he would allow his opponent to chose the negative or
affirmative. He won the soubret of stump speaker legally. He and several
companions cut down a large tree in the Ridge and left a stump about four feet
high, from which he would rehearse his part in the debates with his Ridge
companions as audience. It is related, that on one occasion about Chestnut
time, when he was delivering one of his orations, his powerful voice
reverberating through the branches of the trees shook the chestnuts down and at
the conclusion they filled their pockets and went home. About 1892 he went to
borrowed a number of books and studied law. After accumulating sufficient funds
he disposed of his interests and went to
all over the country,
and owing to the crowded hotels and boarding houses, Mr. Leedy invited the
writer to spend the week in his home. He was a candidate for Congress from this
district and on several occasions spoke in
a 4th of July celebration in 1910 a riot and near lynching was caused by the
brutal murder of Mr. Jas. W. Lee, father of Roy Lee, who was manager of the Garber & Wills livery and feed
stables in the Staples building. Johnson Carickhoff was Sheriff and managed to get his prisoner in the
mob-proof cell in the top of the jail. A mob gathered and demanded the negro
murderer. The late Judge Talford Haas mounted the jail steps and pleaded with the mob to dispurse
and let the law take its course, and that a speedy trial would take place. In
eight days a special grand jury was impanneled, his conviction followed, and he
was on his way to
It was related that the late Hon. Judge John Paul and one of his companions, while speaking from a stand on the east side of the old brick Court House, and whose slogan was, “We are the people,” and wishing to impress his hearers, most of them being farmers, said: “My fellow citizens, I was reared between two rows of corn.” An old friend in front exclaimed, “I always thought you were a pumpkin, John.” His birthplace was Ottobine and on all occasions when possible spent his leisure time there. It is seldom in history that the mantel of the father falls on the shoulders of the son as in the case of John Jr., who followed his father in his various offices to the Federal Judgeship.
prominent corners on
the corner of North Main and West
In about 1902 the large livery and feed stables of J. C. Staples were burned and for a time the business section was in danger. The site is now covered with large buildings. Just east of the stable was the. “Horse 'Bazaar”, which on Saturdays and Court Days was the headquarters of buyers from all over the country.
Another fire which I failed to mention was the second Collicello fire, which burned a wing, but the main part was saved by a mere handfull of firemen, who fought most of the night with the weather at zero.
During the monthly meeting of the Town Council of April, 1890, with Mayor Woodson presiding, the members were, Adolph Wise, Chas. Sprinkel, Wm. Loeb, Chas. Eshman, J. H. McGlaughlin, Peter Guyer, Walter Ritter, and Recorder Wm. Slater.
After the report of the committee on building and operating an electric plant, it was found the cost was far beyond the present finances of the town, Mr. J. P. Houck of the Houck Tanning Company, submitted terms to furnish lights for a period of five years, for the sum of $750.00 a year, which would consist of 76 incandescent lights of 25 candle-power, also four large lights of 32 candle-power for the Square, all to burn every night from dark to daylight except when the moon was actually full. The company to erect poles and wires and renew globes. Any additional number would be installed at $9.50 each per year. A low figure would be charged for domestic and commercial light. The contract was signed and Corporation Treasurer, D. Sheffey Lewis, authorized to borrow $1,000 to meet the first year's payment. When the lights were turned on the old coal-oil lights which sat on wooden posts passed out. The total candle-power furnished was 1028. At present the candle-power used in lighting the ball park is about 3750.
When the water works were constructed, four hose companies were formed, No. 1, No. 3, No. 4 and Central. Much rivalry existed among them in getting to the fire first. John R. Saum was Chief of the Department for a period of years. W. A. “Al” Braithwaite was Chief of Police and later Chief of the Fire Department, and was a prominent figure in the State Conventions and parades. He was employed by the First National Bank for years, and failing health caused his retirement. His death was mourned by firemen over the entire State.
George Bassford was Chief for a number of years, and was said to be the oldest active fireman in the State. He has retired to private life. John F. Noll is the present Chief.
The following poem is dedicated to the “Old Big Spring” and is a gem from the pen of U. G, Wilson, a native-born and lifelong respected citizen:
THE OLD BIG SPRING
By U. G.
It is to many hearts most dear,
The Old Beloved Spring
That only lives in memory now,
And is an unseen thing.
No sign is there to mark the place,
That once did bear the name,
And many thoughtful folks
“It is a downright shame!”
In times remote before it e'er
Had quenched a white man's
The Indian and panting deer
Drank from its waters first
A Pity ‘tis they say to thus
Hide from the view at last,
A spot so rich with history
And blessings of the past;
In later years, when soldier boys
Of North and South alike
Who followed Jackson Lee and
Marched down the Valley Pike,
A spot were famished man and
From o’er the country wide,
Have often sought relief when
Prevailed on every side.
They oft times gathered 'round
Footsore and tired and wan
From Its refreshing waters drank,
And then to death marched on.
The place where way-worn travelers
Have oft their strength renewed,
And then with joy and springing
Their onward way pursued.
The reader may perchance recall
How, when a loitering child,
He watched the tad-poles gad
And with delight, grew wild.
We look in vain for thee;
Thy sparkling waters bubbled once,
Where highways now we see.
Thy passing, myriads doth deplore,
Ten thousand voices cry;
“Return and bless us, dear Old
As in the days gone by!”
There has been a divided discussion lately on the question of the origin of the old Colonial brick house on the corner of German and West Market streets. One is, that it was built by the English Government with brick brought from England, and similar to one now in Norfolk. The other is that it was built by Thomas Harrison and used as the “Corner Stone” of (“Rocktown”) Harrisonburg, when he donated and laid out its streets (Ask Ripley).
Another landmark being preserved is the old log house which stood on the corner of Wolfe and German streets, the home of several generations of the Braithwaite family, which was purchased by Mr. Owen Masters, and rebuilt for his summer home at Briary Branch.
At the present time the three largest construction firms here are The Harrisonburg Building and Supply Co., Neilson Construction Company, and The Berry Lumber and Supply Company. All have modernly equipped plants for producing building materials. The high quality of their productions is evidenced by the large number of modern homes and public buildings. Another younger firm is the well known “H. H. R.-” “Hustling Ham Rhodes.”
Harrisonburg with its floating population and tourist trade, is served by seven modern restaurants, whose equipment service and cuisene are the last word In good food. A number of smaller places give prompt and efficient service. Wm. E. “Bill” Friddle is the pioneer, as he opened the first serviced restaurant in the old Liskey building, now Silco, in 1912 and later the nationally known “Friddles.”
In the early nineties the Eshman Band, (of which the writer is the only surviving member) gave weekly concerts in their band stand which stood in the southwest corner of the Court Yard. This stand was torn down when the present Court House was built.
When the Spanish-American war was declared, the Harrisonburg Guards promptly responded. The 2nd Va. Regiment was formed with Oliver Brown Roller, colonel. Lieutenant E. W. Sullivan was made captain of Company C. Hugh Rinds, and Roy R. Richardson were lieutenants. Four sergeants were Welty Compton, Ned Herring, R. B. Stypes, and Robt. Philips. Other Harrisonburg volunteers were J. E. Anderson, Frank Billhimer, Jerry Dovel, G. Christie Friddle, J. Ritenour, S. C. Sites, E. C. Heller, Harry Jenkins, C. M. Johnson, Grant Lind, J. Wm. Mewbern, W. J. Slusser, J. L. and W. W. Sullivan, F. S. Welcher, W. Walter Wisman. The other volunteers were from various sections of the Valley. Due to an old injury the writer was among those rejected. Of the Harrisonburg volunteers six are living and on pension. A pathetic incident was the death of Private Alpheus Hoosier, who was overcome by illuminating gas in a hotel. His body was brought back home and given a military funeral.
Three prominent ministers were Dr. J. Schvanenfeld of the Jewish Temple; Rev. Peter S. Thomas of the Church of the Brethren, and Dr. B. F. Wilson of the Presbyterian church.
Dr. Schvanenfeld came here in 1910, and due to his broad and unbiased views was admired by other denominations and was considered an authority on all leading topics. He is survived by his widow, a daughter of the late Adolph Wise.
Rev. Thomas came here in 1885 and took charge of the then small congregation of the Church of the Brethren, whose first meeting house was the old frame cabinet shop of J. P. Hyde on the west side of South High street. After a number of years, their membership increasing, they bought the old lot and graveyard across the street and built the present front part. He was a forceful worker in the religious and charitable organizations, and an ardent prohibitionist. 40 years were spent in his church work.
Dr. Wilson was called to the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church in 1903, and by his wonderful personality was popular in all circles. A forceful speaker, he was often called to lecture on various subjects, and took a leading part in all church
activities. Thirty-seven years were spent in the work he loved so well, and his passing was mourned by the entire community.
Somewhere in 1890, when the Land and Improvement Company was formed by Lupton, Sullivan & Co., there was also a Loan Association formed with Dr. S. K. Cox, President; Dr. Rives Tatum, Vice-President; C. D. Beard, Treasurer; Ed. S. Conrad, Attorney, and the following directors: John R. Saum, Captain Thompson Lennig, T. Ashby Long, Jas. R. Lupton, Chas. G. Maphis, A. M. Effinger and Chas. H. Chandler. It was the means of developing several additions to the town, and erecting a large pottery, shoe factory, shovel factory, laboratory, etc. The sites are now covered with several large enterprises and a number of homes.
About the same time another company was formed called, the “Rockingham Wire Fence Co.” Major George Chrisman, President; A. M. Newman, Vice;-President; Winfield Liggett, Treasurer, and the following directors: Peter S. Thomas, Chas. A. Sprinkel, J. W. Click, Geo. W. Showalter, J. P. Houck, Thompson Lennig and A. P. Eiler. The rights of the Orcutt Fence Machine were purchased and the making of machines was started by local workmen. The castings were made at Bradley's Foundry, the woodwork by R. C. Bassford & Bro., the assembling done by Ed. S. Sprinkel and Edward Cordell. After a number of years the company was dissolved.
One of Rockingham's foremost citizens and a member of an old Virginia family, a familiar figure on the streets and in the affairs of Harrisonburg, was George Barney Keezle, a big man in more ways than one. As a farmer he was of the intensive type, who believed in giving back to the soil its proper share, and despised a land robber. He was a sincere polititian who gave his best efforts to his party. An untiring worker he was elected to several offices. He was sent to Richmond to the Senate for several terms and served on important committees. It was through his influence and efforts that the State Teachers College, now Madison College, was located here, and is a lasting credit to him.
Very much opposed to the removal of the large circular top over the Old Big Spring, he was preparing to sue out an injunction against its removal, as he considered it one of Rockingham's outstanding landmarks. So strong was the sentiment against the razing of the dome that the work of removing it was done at night.
He was County Treasurer for years and the organizer of the Farm Bureau, also a large stock holder. His political friends dubbed him “The Tall Sycamore of Cubs Run.”
His first wife was Miss Kate Hanna. Of six children two sons and two daughters survive. His second wife was Miss Belle Hanna, who was a popular school teacher. His death
was mourned by the whole county. His many friends remarked that honor governed his actions, and his friendship was sincere. He dispensed charity with a willing hand, and was often called on to settle differences by arbitrating the matters.
When Rockingham County was formed from part of Augusta, there was keen rivalry as to where the County Seat would be located. At a session of the House in Richmond, the date was set to determine the location in several new counties. The constituents were notified to present their petitions and credentials. Mr. N. Keezle, the grandfather of Geo. B., and Mr. Thomas Harrison, who donated the Public Square, with a number of friends, one for Keezletown and the other for Harrisonburg, started for Richmond. After spending part of the night in Gordonsville, they resumed their journey. Something happened to the carriage of Mr. Keezle and Mr. Harrison hurried on, and the next day Harrisonburg was chosen County Seat-due principally to the fact that the new town would be between two pikes, the “Valley” and the “Warm Springs” with the Big Spring between them. The Square and streets were laid out, and the building of the first Court House which was of logs, began (1780). Some of the old citizens persisted in calling it “Rocktown.”
Frank L. Sublett came to Harrisonburg in 1900 and opened a brokerage office. He later formed the Sublett Hay Corporation and built the large warehouse on the west side of the railroad tracks, and was one of the largest shippers from this point. He was postmaster under President Wilson. With the late D. P. Wine he was largely responsible for the launching of the Skyline movement, and inaugurating the Shenandoah Valley. Inc., which projects are lasting credit to his fore thought. The naming of the ill-fated dirigible, “The Shenandoah” was at his suggestion to the Federal authorities. His home on South Main street was often the center of social and charitable organizations. Mrs. Sublett was a woman of wonderful personal charm, beloved by all who came in contact with her. Mr. Sublett's health failing he removed to private life.
In securing the appropriation for the new postoffice and Court House much credit is due Postmaster Fred Switzer and his assistant Wilmer Chandler, who by their efforts in laying before the Washington authorities the need of larger quarters for the increasing volume of mail, and the centralizing of all the offices of the Federal Court and the various other offices. Mr. Chandler entered the postoffice force as delivery clerk in 1899. He was appointed assistant under W. L. Dechert, and has seen the carriers grow from two in number (Samuel Brannum and Minor Koontz. both now retired) increased to seven.
In 1886 Moses Wenger, an eccentric character, came here from the Pleasant Valley section. He bought the old Jos.
Braithwaite property, which extended from the corner of High and the alley at the present U. B. Church to Elizabeth. He built a green house and hot beds, raising flowers, plants and vegetables. A devout member of the Dunkard Church, he was author of a number of religious tracts, which he distributed when delivering his plants. A Chicago newspaper had a contest for the most unique advertisement. Several of his dodgers which he had printed were sent in and won first prize. He was a man of strict honesty and trustworthy. After the death of his wife, his health and mentality failed. The court appointed a guardian. After a time the property was sold and sub-divided. Four modern homes and an apartment house cover the site.
On the corner of High and W. Wolfe was the home of Rev. A. P. Funkhouser, who succeeded Jiles Devier as Postmaster. He was a forceful speaker and an ardent prohibitionist. His tabernacle at Assembly Park, and bush meetings at various places were attended by all denominations. About 1888 he edited the State Republican in the old Wartman building on W. Market. The motive power was an old upright boiler which exploded and almost wrecked the place. When appointed Postmaster here he disposed of the paper, which was later called the Spirit of the Valley.
One of the oldest landmarks, built about 1788, is the old stone house on the corner of N. Liberty and Elizabeth streets. It is now (1940) being torn down to make way for a filling station. It was the third building erected here. Its heavy window and door frames were solid oak made by hand. The stone in the walls were hand hewn and fitted in Colonial style.
The first building to be erected was the rear stone part of the old house on West Bruce street over a spring. When Thomas Harrison laid out the streets and donated the Court square to the county, he built the front brick part of the present Morrison home on Liberty street. The bricks were aid old English style similar to the outer walls of the new postoffice. The interior woodwork is purely Colonial style with mantels, stairway, and doors.
German (now Liberty) and Market streets were the dividing lines. Main street which was made the eastern boundary of the Square, was one of the first roads through the Valley, and was said to have been used by the Indians as a Southern trail.
Among the banking institutions are the three National Banks. The First National was organized in 1865, with rooms in the east end of the Warren House. Andrew B. Irick was President, C. Crawford Strayer was cashier, teller and bookkeeper. In 1903 the old Sibert building was purchased. This was one of the first built after the 1870 fire. For a short time, they occupied rooms in the old Spottswood building, while
they were razeing the old building and erecting the modern banking house and offices. Succeeding Presidents were Philo Bradley, Joshua Wilton, George E. Sipe, and L. C. Myers, who was a Confederate Veteran and a Lieutenant and charter member of the old Harrisonburg Guards.
The Rockingham Bank building was erected in 1897 by A. Moffett Newman. A drug store occupied the lower floor until 1900, when the Bank was organized with Mr. Newman as president. Increased volume of business necessitated more room. About 1926 the Annex was built, the banking room remodeled with handsome onyx fixtures, and the accounting offices moved to the annex. C. G. Price is the present President.
The People's Bank (now The National) was organized in 1907, with the present venerable Confederate Veteran James E. Reherd as President, who still occupies the chair. A short time later they purchased the present site from Herman Wise. In 1918 the old building was razed and the present one erected. “Doug” Douglas Beard has been Asst. Cashier for a number of years, and was connected with the First National for a period. He numbers among his friends the majority of the citizens and farmers of Harrisonburg and Rockingham. Failing health caused his retirement. Two sons are John, living here, and George, who resides in Texas.
At one time Harrisonburg had two of the largest plants of their kind in the U. S. The Newtown Giant Incubator Corporation (now Daly Bros. Shoe Factory) whose reputation was world wide, as was evidenced by their shipments to foreign countries, Cuba and South America. One was made which required two large box cars to transfer it to Norfolk where it was loaded on boat for South America.
The City Produce Co. was said to be the largest poultry and egg plant shipping live and dressed poultry in car load lots. At present their force, consists of 85 persons male and female, and a fleet of six trucks. J. A. Burkholder was the first president and manager.
.In the late fifties the slight wave of discontent ran through the country. Emancipationists were busy secretly spreading propaganda to cause sectional feeling. Differences of opinion existed even in families. A home guard was formed by prominent citizens of the town and county and called the Rockingham Rifles. James Kenny was Captain, George Chrisman, assistant (probably Lieutenant). Among the members were John Witts, J. R. Jones, St. Clair Sprinkel, Jas. Paine, Lewis Reherd, George Fawcett, Harry Secrist, Chas. Secrist, who died in the Yankee prison camp at Elmira, N. Y.; Thos. Bassford, Robert Steele and others. Most of their arms privately owned, were smooth-bore muzzle loading rifles.
A few had the new minny rifles which shot a ball. Monthly
meetings and drills were held mostly in the country. with drill and shooting matches in the afternoon, The barn floor would be cleared and old fashioned dancing begun with the “Virginia Reel,” polka and square dances, Refreshments for the older: ones was apple jack toddy. The younger ones, persimmon beer, cider and ginger cakes.
After the John Brown raid the South became aroused. Civil war was declared, Virginia seceded, and members of the Rifles enlisted in several companies, Thomas Bassford and a number of others entered the 10th Va. Regiment under Col. D. H. Lee Martz. Samuel Gibbons became Lieutenant-Col. Mr. Chrisman was Major. A number of those over-age done valiant service in rendering aid to the families of their comrades who were vainly fighting for the Confederacy. An expert horseman, Thos. Bassford was detailed to the staff of Gen. E. Kirby Smith as a dispatch bearer.
In 1860 a small company was formed with Chas. Sprinkel as Captain, called the “Valley Guards”. At the outbreak of war most of them promptly volunteered. A few of the Harrisonburg members were: Pendleton Bryan, Jacob Braithwaite, Wm, Billhimer, A. K. Flecher, Jas. Kavanaugh, Samuel Pollock, and a number of others from various sections of the Valley. They were mustered in the 10th Va. Regiment.
A leading figure in milling affairs, was Jno. C. Beery who for a number of years operated the old Wenger Mill on Linville Creek. In 1882 he came here and became part owner and manager of the Harrisonburg Mills. After the disastrous fire of 1884 the mill was rebuilt and John G. Yancey became a member of the firm. After the death of Mr. Berry and later Mr. Yancey, a new company look charge under the management of J. B. McFalls. Mr. Beery built a large home on the corner of N, German and W. Gay. A strict church member he contributed liberally to charitable organizations. One daughter, Mrs. Nora Lockwood, and three sons, Lloyd, Kemper, and Stuart survive.
The following Confederate Veterans were judges of Rockingham County Court: Allan E. Bryan, .James Kenny, John C. Woodson, Jas. Johnson, Col. Chas. T. O'Farrell. John T. Harris, and George G. Grattan.
After building Collicello, David Jones built the present Warren House and later the Thurmond Home. Between them was the old Tatum home. A son, Dr. Rives Tatum married Miss Kate Thurmond. The stairways in the Warren and Thurmond homes are splendid specimens of the Colonial continued hand-rail style, and the work of David Junior, who was the father of Gen. John Robert Jones. He built his home on the corner of Main and Bruce, in the front of the old stone house. It was later the home of John Robert. The interior woodwork and mantels are of heavy Colonial design. In the
two front rooms are two large walnut library cabinets which were made in the early seventies by Thomas Bassford and his oldest son, Robert.
The Episcopal Church was built about 1868. Martin Holmes built the stone work. The bricks were made and laid by Soloman Reamer and son Cliff. The carpenter work was done by John Henry Long, who was an architect and builder.
The present Elks Home was built by Isaac Paul, who resided there and opened Paul Street. He also built the large brick structure on the corner of German and Market streets, and with his son “Bob” operated a large store. Within a period of ten years four large homes were built, Andrew Heneberger, Peter and Andrew Irick, George Harnsberger, and John T. Harris.
Just outside the northwestern city limits is Harrisonburg's largest suburb, Park View and Assembly Park. Due to the rigid restrictions in the purchasing of a lot or property, its high standing as a community is maintained. On a commanding site is the Eastern Mennonite School, which ranks with the best in the State. It is considered a Harrisonburg institution, as also the suburb, as they are connected with the city water, sewer and light plants. The sites are a part of the Dr. Lynn and Potiger farms. Mr. Potiger had a dairy, poultry and grazing farm and for a number of years had a milk, egg and butter route in Harrisonburg. He disposed of his property to the late Elverton Shands and others. Going to Pennsylvania he established an Amish settlement with a number of other families. They are said to lead a very plain and strictly religious life.
Among the first houses built here was the old log and frame building on the corner of Market and German streets. The interior and exterior has now (1940) been modernized with new widows and doors, hardwood floors and equipment. A basement with a modern heating plant is to be installed. The outside walls are covered with stucco. Attractive Neon signs, illuminated gables and cornices and high pitched roof with gables and dormers add much to the appearance of the old landmark. The old house was the home of several generations of the Miller family. The last was that of George Miller, who died March 2, 1877. Four sons were Wesley, Charles, Tom and Newt. Thomas, called “Dixie”, was on the police force under Chief James H. Dwyer. Later he was town Sergeant and Tax Collector for a long period. George Miller was a prominent Mason and his harness and shoemaking shop was situated next to the old stone-arch bridge on the end of the lot. “Grandpap” William Willis was the saddle and harness maker, John McClain, who married Melvina Miller, was the boot and shoe maker. Later, Tom and Mr. McClain moved to the two old Van Pelt homes,
across the street from the Perry Helphenstein home, now the site of Friddle's Bakery.
J. Wesley Miller was the builder of three local racetracks. The first was for Foxhall Daingerfield on the Lennig tract west of Collicello. The second at Assembly Park, west of the A. P. Funkhouser Tabernacle. The third was on the present High school grounds encircling the ball and tennis fields. He was connected with the firm of Purcell-Reherd Co., in R. R. construction for a time. He built the stone and Stucco octagon-shaped house on south German street, which he occupied at his death. Charles Miller was employed by the old B. & O. R. R. as hostler and coal-chute operator. It was said that the coal bins of several widows never went empty. A son Marshall, retired on pension resides on Collicello street. Newton Miller conducted a. butcher shop at several locations. His home was on W. Wolfe street.
On the south side of the Miller home stood the old log and frame one-story house recently razed. The first home of Ludwig Hirsch, and the first shop of the late “Dick” J .E. Good also the first shop of E. G. Wiener.
The three principal streets of Harrisonburg, Main, Market and High, were old Indian trails before Thomas Harrison laid off the Square and streets, which accounts for the crooked ends. All were toll roads operated by turnpike companies over a period of years. Market street, the town entrance of the Spotswood Trail, over which large numbers of cattle, sheep and even turkeys were driven to Richmond and eastern markets, continued west where it crossed another old Indian trail, the old “Turly-Town road” at Barnhart's Shop, which skirted the Alleghanies from the lower valley to Hot Springs and Buffalo Gap.
The principal products in the 1850's, 60's and 70's were: Foundry supplies by Nelson Bradley, established in 1852. Later his brother, Philo Bradley, in 1856, then Schuyler and John. Now two grandsons. Andrew Hockman and John Henry Long made furniture and coffins on E. Market, now corner of Broad, also engaged in house building, 1852 to 1970. Thomas Bassford's first shop was in an old log house on the Spangler lot, corner German and Elizabeth; later at the rear end across Black's Run from “Glody” Leake's yards. The walnut hand-made suite, “Gone With the Wind,” which was recently displayed at Denton's, was a sample of his superior workmanship. He also made coffins. John Harvey Reagan's shop was located on the west side of High, across from the old cemetery, later J. P. Hyde's, who also was Mayor. Robert Reagan was a prominent lawyer. Mrs. Hyde later married William McAllister. The tannery was operated by Noah Upp, later by his son, Samuel; Englan & Bryan, and J. P. Houck Co. Carriages by John C. Morrison. Wagons by Joseph
and Alfred Rohr, Logan & Messerley and Levi Cromer. Shoes saddles and harness by George Miller, who advertised, “Hide's Taken for Work.” Wesley Taliaferro's shop was near Woodbine. Tombstones by Samuel Loewner, and George Anthony. Stone work by Thomas Knooney, Michael Ward and Daniel Hurley, who in 1858 built the first stone wall at Woodbine, taking 3 lots as part pay. Bricks were made by Joseph Reamer and son “Chief,” also by Wm. Billhimer.
Merchant tailors were D. Morgan Switzer and Geo. S. Christie. Hats and caps by John and Philip Witts. Chairs of all kinds by Gambill Sprinkel and son, “Tag”. Horse shoes and shoeing and wagon repairing by Jones and his son George and later by “Lige” Huffman, colored. Two colored shoe-makers were Brown and James Cochran. James was a protege of Warren S. Lurty, who was the first Governor of Oklahoma by appointment.
The old Effinger family burial lot was on the rear end of the present Jos. Ney & Sons lot on Federal Alley. The bodies were exhumed in 1910 by Piner Landis and John Mitchel, and reinterred in Woodbine.
Physicians were Drs. J. N. Gordon and Wm. Williams, Dr. J. B. Amiss, Dr. A. Martin, Dental Surgeon, with offices over Conrad & Martz. Attorney were A. H. H, Stuart, John W. G. Smith, John T. Harris and Geo. R. Calvert, Allen C. Bryan, J. C. Woodson, Thomas J. and B. F. Michie, Some of the leading merchants about 1860 were, Heller & Lowenbach, Andrew Houck, Sprinkel & Gay, Geo. O. Conrad, Andrew Lewis, M. Harvey Effinger and Bro., J. T. Logan, in the “Colonade Building”, S. R. Stirling located at No. 2 Cheapside on east side of the Square. The leading hotels were: Exchange Hotel, on the north side of the Square, P. H. Woodward proprietor; The Mansion House, J. C. Bowman, proprietor.
An advertisement appearing in the Rockingham Register of 1859, reads: “Wm. Campbell begs to announce his barber shop is ready for business. His razors are sharp and he can save you sooner than can say Jack Robinson.'“
On January 12th, 1903, one of the most distressing occurances, which shocked the entire community was the death of Lavernia, the young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward L. Dechert, a beautiful girl just budding into womanhood, who, while preparing to attend school exercises, by some unexplained cause the coal-oil lamp she was using exploded scattering the blazing oil over her.
Drs. Hollingsworth and Tatum were quickly summoned and worked faithfully in trying to save her life, but inhaling of the flames caused her death in a short time. As evidence of her popularity the entire staff of the graded school and the school board attended her funeral in a body. School exercises were suspended to allow the scholars to attend. The pall and
flower bearers were her classmates. Her shroud was made by Maria Morrison and several schoolmates. The funeral procession which formed on two sides of German St., reached almost from the home to the cemetery.
Prof. Wm. Keister was principal. The teachers were: James C. Johnston, H. S. Hooke, Miss Minnie Hausmen, Miss Fannie Speck, Miss Lucy Fishback, Miss Alice Funkhouser, Miss Orra Bowman, Miss Mattie Speck.
The members of the School Board were: Dr. J. H. Neff, Jasper Hawse, and Wm. Dean.
The brilliancy of the “Gem of the Shenandoah” (Harrisonburg) has been enhanced by the addition of the beautiful Federal Court House and Post Office, which is excelled by few outside of Washington, and which would do credit to a city of a hundred thousand.
Another event of interest was the fact that the first session of the U. S. Court held in the new building was presided over by Judge John Paul, and his father, Judge John Paul presided over the first session of the U. S. Court, held in the old building.
Harrisonburg was considered by circus people to be the best show town in the South. On one occasion two of the largest circuses of that period showed alternately, one here on Saturday while the other showed in Staunton. In transporting the two large shows considerable trouble was expreienced by the Valley R. R., as the rolling stock in those days was not owned by the circus people, and the elephants, camels and performing ponies were sent on foot on the Valley Pike, and the natives along the Pike were treated to the sight of two caravans on Sunday. It was said in passing the elephants rubbed noses, or trunks, and exchanged felicitations in their lingo (believe it or not). The merchants here cooperated with the circus in advertising special sales and prices for the two days, and advertising was carried to Eastern and West Virginia. A large number of wagons came from these sections and stayed three days.
Large billboards were placed around the Court Yard fence, and every available space for advertising was taken with large frames covered with sheeting.
Dr. Cox was a prominent minister and public-spirited citizen who took great interest in the development of the northern addition to Harrisonburg, and erected the second residence on Lee Avenue, also the large laboratory, where for a time he compounded his medicines. His health failing he retired and the building was changed to apartments. His wife was Miss Brownie Moffatt, the sister of Sidney Moffatt, a traveling salesman well known throughout the Valley.
Another public-spirited citizen was John P. Burke, who as a youth came here and clerked in the hardware store of
Joshua Wilton for a period of years, later purchasing the hardware store on the east side of the Square. Two young men Frank Nicholas and Toler Lemley clerked for him and later purchased his business. He then engaged in fruit growing and farming. Having acquired the Samuel Bowman farm and most of the Waterman tract. He was instrumental in securing an airport for Harrisonburg. His wife was a Miss Reagan. His sister was Mrs. Samuel Pollock. Mr. Pollock's father was proprietor of the old Pollock Hotel.
In about 1860 three families came from Ireland and located on what is now Newtown. They were Thos. Klooney, J. A. King, and P. Kain. Later when Wellman Town was being developed Mr. King located on W. Bruce street. Mr. Klooney moved on Depot Hill, with Michael. Ward and Johnnie Morrison did stone work. Mr. Kain located in the Chestnut Ridge section. Mr. King was the grandfather of Gene Wiener.
The old Waterman home stood on the hill across from the present school, and near the north end of the Burke Airport. It was related that after the Civil War, he left and lived in his Northern home. His home here stood for awhile and was finally torn down. For a period there was an open pasture for citizens' cows, and wood could be secured for the trouble of cutting.
Rockingham Paul was a prominent attorney and a brother of John Paul. Miss Bessie Paul was a sister. Seymour and Charles were brothers of the present Judge Paul.
The gradual decline in the use of horses, caused by the exodus of the automobile, truck and tractor, was the cause of three large livery and feed stables being abolished. The sound of horses' hoofs in the Staples stables have, been changed to the hum of hundreds of sewing machines, and the voices of the women operators. The other is the Whitesel stables, which is now the home of a large wrecking and used parts concern. The Horse Bazaar is now used as a second-hand auto lot where one can readily see the rapid advance in the improvement of the modern cars.
The decline in the use of leather is clearly shown by the closing down of numerous tanneries, and the passing of the million dollar J. P. Houck plant here. At one time the slogan of the leather Industry was, “Nothing takes the place of leather,” but now it is changed to, “Everything takes the place of leather.” The gradual introduction of rubber substitutes and other imitations has eliminated the only sign of leather is the small squeak which comes from some hidden part of a ladies' shoe.
The old “Bee Gum” free school was in a large two-story frame building on the corner of North Main and East Gay (now the Oates building) .The lower floor was used as class
rooms, and on the upper floor was apartments. The teachers for several sessions were, Miss Lydia Vanpelt, Winfield Liggett, later a prominent attorney; Clinton Gatewood, who joined the U. S. Army and was instrumental in capturing Geronimo and making peace with the Sioux. Also Jasper Hawse, whose home was on High street. The Alumni of the old school: John Kelley, Jesse Pankey, Walter and Carter Sprinkel, Allen Bryan, “Ike” Ney, Geo. Dovel, Geo. W. and K. S. Bassford, and R. E. Lee Allen.
A short time after the Civil War Thomas Bassford was employed by the Federal Government to exhume the bodies of a number of Northern officers, and put them in heavy cast iron caskets, which were made at the foundry, and shipped to Arlington and other Federal cemeteries. Among them was he body of Gen. Meigs, who was killed in a pistol encounter with George Shafer, near Pleasant Valley, while both were out seeking information as to the position of the enemy. A monument was erected at Arlington, on which is inscribed “Assassinated by a Southern Guerilla, while fighting for his beloved country.”
“Andy” Andrew Heneberger's home was on South Main street and sat in the middle of a large lawn, for a while the city, or Keister's Park. This home is clearly shown on the large painting of Harrisonburg by Mrs. Emma Lyon Bryan. His son, Lucien, after graduating, entered the Navy and later, was assigned as surgeon on the ill-fated Battleship Maine, and while asleep in his quarters the explosion occurred which sank the vessel and set in motion the Spanish-American War. A son was Randolph, whose wife was the daughter of the late E. L. Dechert, whose son, Grimes, is now City Auditor.
One of the most tragic occurrances in Harrisonburg was the death of Alexander Hamilton, who was a chemist, and while prospecting in the Peaked Mountains, Massanetta, discovered a large deposit of what he thought would revolutionize the paint industry. He purchased the old factory building, now the site of the Pankey Ice plant, and put in grinding and pulverizing machines. After repeated experiments with different oils and pigments, his paint proved a failure, as it would neither stick on wood or metal. Mrs. Hamilton, noticing that he was brooding over his disappointment, wrote to a relative, who was one of the McCormicks, and while funds to cover his losses were on the way, he killed himself on the top floor of the old building. Mrs. Hamilton closed her affairs and with her son, Aleck, Jr., went to Chicago. This son later became one of the leading lawyers. She placed a stone at his grave on which is inscribed, “Honourable to a Fault.”
Another tragic death was that of Thomas Grimm, who for no apparent reason went to one of the empty rooms in the Bee Gum and killed himself.
For a number of years an apple barrel factory operated there, also a cooper shop. After a fire which destroyed a part of it, the balance of the building was torn down.
P. D. Rodeffer, a one-legged Confederate Veteran, was the last tenant.
Edward S. Conrad, a leading lawyer, married the daughter of Samuel Irick. Prof. Kregloe, Principal of the old school, married the daughter of Samuel R. Sterling. Across the street from the school was the home of John J. Yancey, whose wife was the daughter of Philo Bradley. He was connected with the Clemm & Wenger Flour Mill and later had the controlling interest in the Harrisonburg Milling Co. He also operated a fertilizer and phosphate plant north of the Tabb warehouse, which with twenty other places of business was razed by fire. Next to the Yancey home was the home of French Compton. Two sons, Robert and Welty, survive in Charlottesville, Va. Phillip Liggett's home was on part of the Hill Top farm, now in the corporate limits, and whose son was Jacob Liggett, father of Winfield, whose home was on the corner of South High and Bruce streets. It is related that Jacob was the writer of Judge Kenny's will. At his death Liggett was called to read the will. After opening it he said “Who in the H--- wrote this, anyhow?”
Charles Haas, a prominent attorney and father of the late Judge Talford N. Haas (whose wife was the widow of John T. Logan) had offices in the northwest corner of the Square, in the Thurmond building. A grand-son, Hamilton, is trial Court Judge. A daughter, Minnie, married Mr. Christian.
Charlie Switzer, after the death of his father, was connected with the First National Bank for a number of years.
One of the most prominent lawyers here was Wm. B. Compton, who studied in the offices of Bryan & Woodson. His first home was on German street in part of the old double log house of John Henry Long, next to the Bassford home. Adjoining on the south side was another old log house, the home of B. E. Long and the Jones sisters. This space is now a large filling station. Mr. Compton later purchased the old Academy on West Market street and remodeled it for his home, and in those days was considered the finest residence in Harrisonburg. A daughter, Fannie, married Lurty Harris, the son of Dr. Frank Harris. It was the home of Jas. Kavanaugh for some time, also the home of Henry Ney. It was razed to make way for Harrisonburg's rapid development and is now the site of five modern homes.
Adjoining this property was the home of Dr. Rice Bowman, who was Pastor of the Presbyterian Church (on Main street). Across the street was the home of T. L. Williamson, (who came to Harrisonburg in 1888) father of Jacob W., C. B. and one daughter, Katherine. “Davy” Wisman's home
Was next for a time. He later built a home on German street next to the Troy Laundry. He was the pioneer egg and poultry dealer, and owned considerable property. He later moved his business to Richmond.
The home of Gambill Sprinkel was on German street, at Black's Run. He operated a gun-repair shop. Mrs. Chas. Campbell is the only surviving child.
Mr. Alonzo Dovel, the venerable retired janitor of the First National Bank, who is the oldest citizen and resides on North Main street, relates that when a young man he spent ten years on the Shenandoah River as a raft and boatman, and was employed by Dr. J. D. Miller, who owned immense tracts of virgin timber along the river and large saw mills at Millville, to which the huge rafts were floated. He also furnished most of the charcoal to the Milnes Iron Company. This charcoal was made from the larger limbs of the trees and cull timbers. It was said to produce a finer grade of iron than the present coke system. When the Shenandoah Valley R. R. was built, and also dams and bridges, the river traffic passed out.
In 1895 “Dickie” J .E. Good came here and worked for Jno. R. Saum for a number of years. In 1908 he moved his family here. In 1910 he went in the roofing and metal working business for himself, and by his honest methods and dealings built up a business which was a credit to him. He built a home of Lee Avenue. He later took his two sons, Hugh and Warren, in as partners. An unfortunate accident hastened his death.
Irvin S. McNeil came here forty-eight years ago, as a young man. He clerked in several hardware stores and for a long period of years has been a traveling salesman.
The Reverend J. Silor Garrison, D. D., was born at Middlebrook, Va. He graduated from Mercersburg, and Franklin & Marshall Colleges, and came to Harrisonburg in 1894. He organized the Reformed Church here with seven members, and began preaching in the old storeroom of William Logan, in the north end of town, near the freight depot. The first Reformed Church was built on North High street in 1896. He was pastor for four years. He organized the Massanutten Academy at Woodstock, and located there for four years. For a time he was head of the English Department in Catawba College, N. C. He returned here in 1908 and became pastor of the Reformed Church for the second time. He has been head of the mathematical department in the High School for 30 years. The new St. Stephens Reformed Church was built in 1931. He has served the longest pastorate in the history of Harrisonburg. In 1900 he was married to Miss Mary Moore Fletcher, daughter of the late Abner K. Fletcher. Four children, one son and three daughters, are living.
A double wedding took place is the old Main Street Presbyterian Church when Prof. Wm. Keister married Virginia Paul Fletcher, a sister of Mary Moore.
Mrs. A. K. was Virginia Catherine, the daughter of Isaac Paul.
In 1880 two brothers, H. N. and J. D. Whitesel came here and entered the employ of J. W. Earman, who handled farm machinery. In 1881 they purchased his business, and in 1887 bought the old Gatewood property and erected a large storeroom. The upper floor was used for the Armory of the Harrisonburg Guards and the Eshman Band room. It was later remodeled for apartments. Quite a number of young men received their business training in the employ of the brothers. At H. N. Whitesel's death in 1909, his son, Frank, entered the firm. In 1912 the business was purchased by Garber & Cunningham, and in 1926 by J. O. Stickley & Son. After being in the Sprinkel building and later in one of the tannery buildings, Frank formed the Whitesel-Sinton Company, and recently .moved to a modern plant on Grace street.
Two competitive firms for the past twenty-eight years are S. Blatt and Frank Hayden. Both starting with small one-horse shops have, by aggressive methods, built the largest and most modern “cleanin’ and pressin’” establishments in the Valley, and whose expanding territory has crossed the mountains taking in Eastern Virginia and West Virginia.
Harrisonburg also has a modern fur cleaning and fur storage plant with a capacity of 4000 garments. This plant serves a large section of the South. S. Blatt and son, Thomas, are owners of this industry. Due to the continued increase in volume of business, a new unit is soon to be added to the present plant on East Elizabeth street.
“Glody” Wm. Gladowell Leake, a quiet, unassuming man, came to Harrisonburg from the Peach Grove section, and purchased the Fred Effinger lot, now the Wampler Feed and Seed Co. site. He built a warehouse, with living quarters and office, and operated a Junk and lumber yard. By his frugal mode of living and strict manner of conducting his business he amassed a considerable fortune. He was often heard to remark of the need of a hospital here. Having suffered a slight injury to his foot which became infected, blood poisoning developed, causing his death in a short time. It was said that had there been a hospital here then, his life may have been prolonged. In his will, after making provision for a sister, Mrs. Detrick, and several small bequests, his entire life's savings were bequeathed for the founding of the “Rockingham Memorial Hospital,” which, with its staff of doctors, nurses and attendants, is a lasting monument to him and a blessing to the community. At his request his body was taken to Albemarle. The Mayor and members of the Town
Council were pallbearers, also a number of business men.
“Cooney” Conrad Long a Confederate veteran and greatgrandfather of Ward Long, Jr., after four years service, lost a leg in a hunting accident. His home was on South High street.
Most of the first buildings in Harrisonburg were of stone or log construction. Probably the first stone was on Bruce street. Then the Harrison home, later becoming the home of J. C. Woodson. The Isaac Hardest home was at the present location of The National Bank. The Rohr house was on German street north of Black's Run. In the north-west corner of the Square, now Joseph Ney & Sons store, the Waterman house. The old jail on W. Market, now the site of the Sublett warehouse. Log houses were: George Miller, now the Dixie Cafe; Misses Jones, B. E. Long, John Henry Long, Thomas Bassford, all between Wm. Reherd's, now Bear Auto Parts, and Elizabeth street. The Spangler house, N. T. Chase, and the Harry home between Elizabeth and Wolfe. Across the street was the Logan and Messerley homes. Across Wolfe was John Cordell, now Dan Hartman's. Across the street the Sewel Braithwaite home. Next the southern end of Emmanuel Royer's home. All have been razed except the Royer and Miller homes.
On the corner of Main and Wolfe was the first home of Prof. Eshman. It was moved to the rear of the lot and the present Crawford building erected.
The Dr. Butler home, now B. Ney & Sons store, was sold to Judge Smith, of Smithland, and then to Mr. Ney. The original logs are still in place behind the large sign on Elizabeth street, as Mr. Ney would not consent to removing them on remodeling.
When the brick court house was built, a fence was put around the court yard with heavy posts and rails. There were four large revolving gates. After the hitching of horses was abolished, a plank walk was put around the fence.
Judge Allan C. Bryan's home was just east of the present Broad street, on part of the Gray farm. Later it was the home of Wm: J. Points, who was a leading figure in most of the fraternal orders. He is survived by three daughters and one son.
There were four sheriffs who were old Confederate Veterans. John Switzer, father of Walter and Robert; David Rolston, and Levi Byrd, Deputy. Henry Lamb served two terms. He lost a leg in the Civil War, and was sheriff from 1880 to 1884. A. S. Byrd was Sheriff from 1852 to 56. He was an uncle of J. C. Byrd, the father of William and John Byrd. William P. Byrd, the father of J. C., made his home at Stoneleigh Inn for a number of years after the war.
In 1856 Philo Bradley came to Harrisonburg and with his
brother operated a small foundry at the foot of hill on the warm Springs Turnpike, now South High street, which was the first unit of the present modern plant. The business increasing, he erected two buildings on the hill. By his untiring efforts his productions grew rapidly. He was a member of the leading lodges and a liberal contributor to his church and charity. The management of his business fell to his two sons, Schuyler and John. The plant is now operated by two grandsons, Burns and Bennett, and one great-grandson, Schuyler.
Two of Harrisonburg's promising young doctors were Tom Firebaugh and Frank Olehausen, whose deaths occurred in middle manhood.
The first greenhouse for flowers was operated by Mr. John Bell on the corner of North Main and Kelley streets. He was the father of Henry, and Mrs. D. C. Devier. The Garber families were prominent in business affairs John, B. Frank, Edward and George.
John E. Kelley, one of the largest property owners and business men, and hale and hearty at the age of 73 years, is the oldest living mail carrier in the State. He worked in the carriage factory of Jno. C. Morrison and assisted in building the old hook and ladder truck, now at Dayton. He was employed by the B. & O. R. R. for 25 years. At present he is the oldest living merchant here, having personally conducted his lumber and coal yard for 30 years.
Mr. Kelley's first wife was Frances Leake. Four daughters survive: Mrs. Nonie Toppin, Mrs. Susan Falls, Mrs. Mary Fauver, and Mrs. Burnette Gleason. His second wife was Miss Ethel Kelley.
Miss Phoebe Shepps home was on North Main street. Later the Wakenight home, and now the site of the modern Coca Cola plant.
Joseph Ney came to Harrisonburg in 1850. He purchased the old Wm. Gray stone building in the northwest corner of the Square. He changed the lower floor into two storerooms, one of which was occupied by a Mr. Filbert for a candy and ice cream store. It was also used for a time for the postoffice under Edward Sullivan, and later by his son James. A large hall on the north side led to his residence.
He married Regina Rosenfeld. Three sons, Milton of Washington, Alfred and Ed., here, survive, as well as four daughters.
One of the outstanding citizens was John R. Saum, who came here in 1868, a youth, and entered the employ of O. P. Helphenstein, where he learned his trade as tinsmith. About 1880 he bought part of the Gatewood property on E. Market street and built a shop with living rooms above. In 1888 a nephew, Monroe L. Saum, came here and with George Gatewood,
entered the employ of John R. After a number of years, Monroe went on the road as a traveling salesman for a large supply firm, which he followed for twenty years.
Gatewood was employed by Jim and Joe Kavanaugh for a period of years, and by his cheery and jovial disposition, made a host of friends. It was said he knew the majority of the citizens of the town and county by their first name.
After a disastrous auto wreck north of town, causing the death of Joseph Kavanaugh, and injuring Harry De Bruin, a prominent horseman, Gatewood's health began to decline. After several years of ill health his death occurred. He was a member of the old Harrisonburg Guards.
John R. retiring, Monroe took charge and owing to bad health, closed out the business and retired to his home on Paul street. John R's first wife was Miss Dora Helphenstein. His second, Miss Clower, of Woodstock. Two children survive, Mrs. Sallie Flory of Elkton and Randolph, here. His third wife was Flora Rodgers.
Another level headed business character was “Abe” Loewner, who with his older brother, “Sol”, who had been with Sibert Bros. for a time, opened a store in one of the Spottswood rooms. After Sol went to Baltimore, Abe continued the business for a time. He purchased the property on East Square, now the site of the Peoples Drug Store, and after remodelling moved his business and family there, continued a most successful career for forty years. He sold the property to the Central Drug Co., who razed the old building and erected the present one. He was on the Town Council for a number of terms and during the period when they were installing lights, power, water and sewerage, he was head of the finance committee, and by his sound methods piloted them through difficult periods. His wife Teresa, was a daughter of Adolph Wise. Five sons and five daughters survive.
For a period of years the old storm-sewer which ran from the Sibert corner down to the old Masonic Hall, then down Water street to Black's Run, was covered with wooden planking. It was a mosquito and typhus menace to the citizens. When the Valley Turnpike was formed, they built walls diagonally across the street to the Sibert corner with a heavy wooden top. When the Sibert building was razed and the First National Bank built, Wm. Fallis, who was Supt. of Public Works, removed the planking and covered the sewer with the present cement walks. He also built the first cement walks on German street.
The flow from the Big Spring diminishing, large pipes were placed in the open branch and covered by the cement walk In front of Denton's. A wide cement walk and bridge is being constructed from the corner of the Square to West Water street, which will obliterate two old landmarks, the
Horse Wash and Hydrant site, and the Big Spring branch. A wag was heard to remark that he preferred the Hydrant water to the Spring, which were identical, as the water from the spring was piped to the hydrant.
Morgan Switzer was a prominent figure and Mayor for a number of years. He abolished the chain-gang as it reminded him of slave days, was degrading and served to harden a prisoner. In Mayor's Court he would often put a first-offender on probation, and after a severe lecture release him. He was largely interested in the development of Rawley Springs. His home was in apartments over his store on the south side of the Square, and in a summer cottage at the Springs, where his death occurred.
“Homeland”, the present home of “Uncle Billy” Rickard, was built about 1825 by Robert Kyle. It passed to his widow, then to L. S. Reed, later to P. W. Reherd. Its eight large rooms, with high ceilings, have a fireplace in each. The interior is purely Colonial style with a continued starway to the top. Jeremiah Kyle owned about 318 acres which he left to his son Robert. Homeland is a part of this tract and is in the city limits, and is presided over by his charming daughter, Miss Edna Rickard. Robert Kyle married Mary Byrd, daughter of Abram Byrd of Shenandoah County, who built Stoneleigh Inn.
Most of the building in the 1850-60, and '70 period was done by David Jones, Jr., John Henry Long, Joseph, Jacob and Sewel Braithwaite, Emmanuel Royer, Andrew Hockman, Noah and Francis Flick.
After the Civil War, County Court Clerks were L. W. Gambill, Robert Gray, St. Clair Sprinkel, Wm. Wartman, Jos. Messerley, J. Frank Blackburn, and the present John Robert Switzer. Col. D. H. Lee Martz was Circuit Court Clerk, 1887, for a long period.
During the week of March 6, 1893, the citizens were stirred by a number of fires. Whether the motive was spite or the mania of a fire-fiend remained a mystery. Extra watchmen were put on and the Council ordered Mayor Switzer to offer a reward of $500.00 for the conviction of the party or parties guilty.
The first fire of the series was started in the stables in the rear of the Kavanaugh, which were destroyed with contents. Only the prompt and efficient efforts of the firemen kept it from spreading to the Kavanaugh and the nearby B. Ney buildings, as a heavy wind was blowing. On Tuesday morning about four o'clock an attempt was made to burn Collicello, the home and boarding house of Mrs. Mary Lupton. A B. & O. crew under Bruce Russell, noticed a blaze at the rear and blew the locomotive whistle. They and the firemen
extinguished the blaze. The next fire was a stable on Federal Alley, on the rear of the Wall property.
The fourth attempt was successful, although the town was patrolled by extra watchmen and volunteers. On the following Tuesday morning several engines in the B. & O. yard sounded an alarm, followed by the glare of blaze against the night sky. It was first thought to be the Berry Mills, but was soon found to be the old Ice Factory. All hope of saving it vanished, as it was entirely enveloped in flames. The illumination was seen for miles. The old building and contents were insured for about $4,000.00. It was a familiar landmark for years. The first building was burnt during the Civil War. About 1867 it was rebuilt and operated by a stock company as a sash and door factory. This venture failed. A Northern firm then operated a spoke factory. Later a paint factory. At frequent intervals the gloomy old building stood idle. In 1889 it was purchased by the Harrisonburg Ice Manufacturing Co., and fitted up with the then latest type of machinery. For several years it was successful. Financial difficulties followed and it was sold and what cost $10,000.00 brought less than $4,500.00. In 26 years it brought nothing but failure to those who owned or operated in it.
The murder trial of Anderson Shifflett was held during the May term, 1877. He was convicted on circumstantial and perjured evidence.
A woman heard S. Morris make a bargain with Shifflett to kill Lawson. She told her husband and he notified Sheriff D. H. Rolston. Morris and Shifflett lay along the path where Lawson came down the mountain. Shifflett's nerve failed him, so Morris took the gun and killed Lawson. A few hours later the body was found. Morris and Shifflett were arrested. At the trials Morris testified that Shifflett had carried out their pact. He, Morris, was sentenced to life imprisonment. On his and the woman's testimony Shifflett was convicted and hung. Levi Byrd was then Deputy Sheriff. When the trap was sprung the rope broke. While they were procuring another, Shifflett requested that the black cap be removed so he could see daylight once more, and again protested his innocence.
One of the old Harrisonburg Guards, who was on duty, related that Mr. Byrd and Shifflett sat on the casket, which had been covered with an old blanket. He still protested that he was not the actual killer. Several of the Guards, affected by the scene, burst into tears, sat their guns down and left the scene.
Some years later, Morris, on his death-bed in Richmond, confessed to a minister that he was the murderer. Following is a clipping from the “Old Commonwealth” of that date, May 17, 1877:
“The trial of Anderson Shifflet for the murder of David G. Lawson, was commenced in the County Court of this county on Tuesday of last week, and terminated on Monday morning last, the jury rendering a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. The testimony was very voluminous, and occupied four days of the trial. Saturday was taken up by the counsel in the argument of the case, and the jury was sent to their room on Saturday evening, after being charged by Judge O'Ferrall: Court assembled at 9 o'clock on Monday morning, and at fifteen minutes past 9 o'clock it was announced that the jury had agreed. They were brought into court, when the usual forms having been gone through with, the question was asked, “do you find the prisoner at the bar guilty of the charge in the indictment?” To which the foreman answered, “guilty of murder in the first degree.” The scene at the rendering of the verdict was solemn beyond description, and for some minutes there was almost deathly silence in the court room. The prisoner was visibly affected by the verdict.
“We forbear any comments in regard to the case, as there are several other parties implicated in the murder, and whose trials are yet to take place.
“The prisoner was earnestly and ably defended by Gen. J. E. Roller, Ro. B. Reagan, and John T. Bray, of Greene county. The prosecution was faithfully and ably conducted by John Paul, attorney for the Commonwealth, assisted by J. N. Liggett.
A motion for a new trial was made by the counsel for the defense and overruled by the Court.
“A motion for arrest of judgment was made by the counsel for the defense, on the grounds of a fault in the indictment. The motion was overruled, and the Judge proceeded to pass sentence. The following is about the language used in the sentence as delivered by Judge O'Ferrall:
“ Anderson Shifflett: In the discharge of my judicial duties, I am, called upon this morning to perform the saddest and most unpleasant duty of my life. Gladly would I relieve myself of this duty, if it were possible, but the stern command of the law is, that I only shall perform it.
“It is hard enough when a Court is required to pass sentence of confinement in the prison house upon a human being, and thereby deprive him of his liberty, but when the sentence is a sentence of death, the other dwindles before it.
“You were indicted by a Grand Jury of your own county, for one of the most heinous crimes known to our law; you have been tried by an impartial jury of your countrymen, defended by able counsel and after a careful and deliberate trial and investigation, you have been found guilty of the willful, premeditated murder of David G. Lawson, on the 15th day of March, 1875.
“Under the finding of the jury, the law declares that you shall die. How terrible is that word and how it chills every sensibility of our nature and yet, as terrible as death may loom up before you, advantages will be accorded you that you did not accord to your victim. Without a moment's notice, without the faintest warning-without time even for David G. Lawson to call upon his God to have mercy on his soul, he, was plunged into eternity, and brought face to face with his Maker by your fatal bullet fired from the cover of the bushes on the road side. But while the avenging arm is now raised over you, to take life for life, it will not descend until you shall have had time to prepare for eternity, and to make your peace with your God.
“Let me, therefore, urge you, as you value your own soul, let me beseech you as you stand on the brink, to devote all the time allotted to you to a preparation for the grave, and not to content yourself with the hope that by some means or other you may yet escape the avenging hand of the law.
“It now only remains for me to pass the judgment of this Court upon you, and that judgment is that you be now remanded to the jail of this county, from whence you came, and there confined until Friday, the 29th day of June, 1877, when you will be taken there from between the hours of sunrise and sunset, by the Sheriff of this County, and by him hanged by the neck until you are dead-dead-dead! And may the God of mercies have mercy on your soul!”
An apology is asked for the rambling manner of this narrative, probably due to the fact that most of my Schooldays were in the Old “Bee Gum” which consisted of,
“Readin' and writin' and 'rithmetic,”
But minus the “swish” of the hickory stick.
“Tommy” K. S. Bassford.
Glenn, 7, 13
R. E. Lee, 19
Dr. J. B., 15
Dr. Jno., 8
J. E., 7
James L., 2
James L. A., 2
Billy Wm., 9
Geo. W. and K. S., 19
George W., 18
R. C., 16, 8
Thomas, 2, 9, 16, 2, 12, 13, 14, 19, 24
Thos., 11, 12
C. D., 8
John & George, 11
Jno. C., 12
Warren and Jack, 18
Wm., 7, 12, 15
J. Frank, 27
Capt. John, 17
Ella and Jim, 4
J. C., 15
Samuel R., 16
Wm. R., 16
Philo, 3, 11, 14, 21, 24
Jacob, Joseph, Sewel, Jos., 3
Joseph, Jacob, and Sewel, 27
W. A. Al, 4
John T., 29
Charles and Thomas, 18
Owen B., 18
John, 3, 12
Allan E., 12
Allen C., 15
Allen Tinkey, 3
Emma Lyon, 3, 19
Judge Allan C., 24
Pendleton, 3, 12
Billy Wm., 15
John P., 5, 16
J. A, 11
Journey and Stewart, 13
A. S., 24
J. C., 24
Levi, 24, 28
William and John, 24
William P., 24
Geo. R., 15
J. W., 16
Chas. H., 8
E. Massie, 9
N. T., 5, 24
George, 8, 11
Geo. S., 8, 13, 15
J. O. A., 7, 17
Prof. Chas., 17
J. W., 8
Brown and James, 15
Sam and Herbert, 13
Robert and Welty, 21
Wm. B., 21
C. C., 17
Ed. S., 8
Edward S., 21
Geo. O., 15
George O., 4
D. C., 5
John, 3, 24
Dr. S. K., 8
Levi, 6, 15
Rau D., 4
E. L., 19
Edward L., 15
W. L., 9
Wilmer and Edward, 8
J. S., 18
D. C., 25
D. Clint, 14
Jiles, 16, 10
James H., 9, 16, 13
Mrs. Jas, H., 2
J. W., 23
Edge Lawn, 11
A. M., 8
John Graham, 7, 2
M. Harvey, 15
M. Harvy, 7
Mrs. Hester, 4
A. P., 8
Prof., 14, 24
Prof. Chas., 15
Wm., 7, 26
A. K., 12
Abner K., 22
Mary Moore, 22
Virginia Paul, 23
Noah and Francis, 27
G. Christie, 7
W. Ed., 17
Wm. E. Bill, 7
A. P., 14
L. A., 6
L. W., 27
John, B. Frank, Edward and George, 25
Wm. H., 12
Rev. J. Silor, 22
Dick J. E., 14
J. E. Dickie, 22
Dr. J. N., 15
George G., 12
George, III, 9
Judge Geo. G, 11
Algernon and Jewett, 6
William and Pat, 5
Peter, 3, 17, 4
Judge Talford, 3
Talford N., 21
Mrs. Charles, 5
Dr. James, 6
James and Frank, 2
Jno. X. and Graham, 3
John T., 12, 13, 15
John T., Jr., 7
Judge John T., 3
Lurty and Fannie, 21
Geo. B. & Thomas, 9
Thomas, 3, 6, 10, 14
Wm. and Tommy, 5
Edgar Eli, 3
Jewett, Robert, Eli, 3
Wm. H., 18
Jasper, 16, 19
E. C., 7
O. P., 25
O. Perry, 5
Andrew, 13, 19
Ludwig, 6, 14
Andrew, 7, 14, 27
H. S., 16
J. P., 14, 4, 8, 14, 18
Charles and Sweeney, 11
Dr. Charles, 20
J. P., 7, 14
Andrew B., 10
Peter and Andrew, 13
C. M., 7
Judge James, 7
James C., 16
David, 9, 13, 12
David, Jr., 27
G. P., 6
Gen. John R., 13
Gen. John Robert, 12
J. R., 11
John Paul, 17
Strother, 7, 13
T. N., 8
Jas., 12, 21
Jim and Joe, 26
George Barney, 8
J. W., 23
Prof. Wm., 16
W. H., 14
John E., 25
John, Sr., 8
Mrs. J., 14
Peter and Henry, 6
Judge James, 9
James, 11, 12
J. M., 18
J. A., 18
Pat and Johnny, 12
Wm. S, 20
David G., 29, 30
Wm. Gladowell Glody, 23
Jas. W., 3
Prof., 8, 11
Andrew, 14, 15
D. Sheffey, 8
J. N., 29
Winfield, 8, 19
Wm. & Son, 5
Samuel, 12, 2, 15
J. T., 15
John T., 21
B. E., 5, 21, 24
Conrad Cooney, 24
John Henry, 13, 14, 21, 24, 27
T. Ashby, 8
Ward, Jr., 24
Wm. and John, 15
Jonas, 5, 16
James and Charles, 8
Jas. R., 8
Mary, 6, 27
Warren S., 7, 15
J. H., 15
Chas. G., 8
Dr. A., 15
Col. D. H. Lee, 14
D. H. Lee, 12, 27
J. A., 17
Mrs. T. W., 4
J. B., 12
Lloyd, Kemper, and Stuart, 12
J. H., 9, 4
Jed J. H., 11
Irvin S., 22
W. M., 20
J. Wm., 7
Thomas J. & B. F., 15
Charles, 17, 14
Dr. Jas., 20
George, 6, 13, 15, 24
J. D., 22
J. Wesley, 14
Wesley, Charles, Tom, and Newt, 13
Dr. S. H., 13
Jno. C., 25
John C., 4, 7, 14
Ward and Johnnie, 18
J. G., 17
L. C., 8, 16, 11
J. H., 16
A. M., 8
A. Moffett, 11
Moffett, 7, 11
B., 8, 13, 20
B., Joseph, and Charles, 5
Joseph, 24, 25
John F., 4
Chas. T., 12
Col. Chas. T., 14
Mrs. Charles, 6
Franklin and Luther, 5
Leiws P., 7
Isaac, 4, 9, 20, 13
Isaac and Virginia Chaterine, 23
John, 18, 29
Judge John, 20, 3
Judge John [I], 16
Judge John [II], 16
Seymour and Charles, 18
Capt. W. W., 17
I. N., 20
Wm. J., 24
Samuel, 12, 18
C. G., 11
J. D., 6
John Harvey, 14
Rob. B., 29
L. S., 27
James E., 11
P. W., 27
Wm., 20, 24
Dr. Walter, 7
Jack J. T., 17
Peachy, 7, 13
R. Coleman, 20
C. B., 17
Roy R., 7
Billy, 4, 18, 27
P. D., 21
Alfred C., 4
Joseph and Alfred, 15
Joseph T., 4
Gen. Jno. Ed., 12
J. E., 29
Jno. E., 18
John E., 9
Oliver Brown, 7
D. H., 28
E. D., 12
Emanuel, 3, 9
Emmanuel, 24, 27
Edward and Bruce, 17
Jno. R., 7, 22
John R., 4, 8
Monroe L., 25
Dr. J., 7
Samuel and Henry, 5
William and Elverton, 11
Anderson, 28, 29
Geo. W., 8
Julius, 7, 14
Geo. E., 8
George E., 11
S. C., 7
Wm., 13, 4
W. J., 7
E. Kirby, 12
Gen E. Kirby, 2
Jno. K., 7
John W. G., 15
R. B., 17
Joseph and Jacob, 5
John and Henry, 6
Chas., 4, 12
Chas. A., 8
Dr. Carter and Edith, 3
Ed. S., 8
Edgar Tag, 4
Gambill, 15, 22
Louise and Gambill, 7
St. Clair, 11, 27
Walter & Carter, 19
J. C., 4
J. C., 11
Samuel R., 7, 21
Jas. B., 11
C. Crawford, 10
Henry V., 8
A. H. H., 15
R. B., 7
Frank L., 9
E. W., 7
J. L. & W. W., 7
Milton, Alfred, and Ed., 25
D. Morgan, 15
Dr. J. Robert, 18
Jno. A., 16
John Robert, 27
Walter and Robert, 24
Ward and Charles, 18
Wesley, 7, 15
Dr. Rives, 8, 12
Prof. A. L., 18
Peter S., 8
Rev. Peter S., 7
C. E., 13
J. F., 9
John, 8, 12, 16
Ella and Thomas, 7
Tom and Rice, 7
F. S., 7
H. N., 23
H. N. and J. D., 23
Col. and Lizzie, 8
E. G., 14
Dr. Wm. Williams, 15
Jacob W. and C. B. and Katherine, 21
T. L., 21
Dr. B. F., 7
U. G., 5
Joshua, 20, 11, 18
D. P., 9
Dan P., 3
Adolph, 16, 4, 7, 26
Herman, 5, 11
Leopold, 5, 20
W. Walter, 7
John, 13, 11
John and Philip, 15
Phil and John, 11
J. C., 15, 24
John C., 12
Judge John C., 3
P. H., 15
Dr. Burbridge, 11
John G., 12
John J., 21
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